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This Chinese Distillery Is Bringing the Most Consumed Spirit on the Planet to America

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Unless you’ve been to China, it is quite likely you’ve never heard of baijiu. But even if you have, and found yourself consummating a new business partnership with shots of the pungent clear spirit -- cheering over heaping plates of pork, chilies and noodles -- chances are you’re still unaware that grain-based baijiu is the most consumed alcohol on planet Earth.

That’s because even though four billion gallons of baijiu are sold annually, more than twice the volume of vodka, almost none of that ocean of distillate reaches American shores. Ming River Baijiu aims to change that. In a partnership with one of the largest and oldest distilleries in China, Luzhou Laojiao, the four founders of Ming River aim to not only introduce another bottle to the crowded spirit marketplace but also introduce an entirely new category to the American consumer. It’s a daunting challenge indeed.

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Adding to the difficulty is the history and breadth of the spirit (baijiu translates generically to white alcohol), encompassing numerous regional styles. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty, at least a dozen varietals, or aromas, of baijiu have developed throughout China. Four major pillars (sauce-aroma, rice-aroma, strong-aroma and light-aroma) account for more than 95% of sales volume, however. Strong aroma, the Sichuan-based variety that Ming River produces, is the most popular.

All of which makes the challenge facing Global Marketing Director Simon Dang, Educational Director Derek Sandhaus and CEO Bill Isler even greater. The colleagues started their endeavor........

© Entrepreneur